You are one of the top lawyers in the country. Was this your childhood dream?

I never intended to be a lawyer. I wanted to become a pilot. Law came after my ‘A’ levels. My father influenced me to this profession.

Once I joined the University of Nairobi to study Law, I never looked back. I graduated among the top students in my class.

Tell us about your early schooling… 

I started my education in Kisumu, Nyanza but later my family moved to Machakos where I spent my teenage years and went to Machakos Boys High School. My father was a lecturer at Machakos Teachers’ College.

I have fond memories of Machakos Boys because I emerged the top student in my ‘A’ Level class and my name is engraved on the school board.

Tell us about your first job experience…

I got an internship at Wahui & Muite Company Advocates; it was among the three top law firms then. Top students from Law School Dean’s list would get internship in the three law firms. I happened to be among them thus, enjoyed the privilege of practicing Law with the best brains then.

But that too, came with its challenges: It was during the clamour for pluralism in the country and the law firm was at the centre of the political storm. Luckily, I secured a scholarship from the British High Commission to further my studies at The Kings College in the United Kingdom.

You are a Law scholar and taught at various universities. What is your experience as a lecturer?

I got my masters degree in 1995, and started teaching at Moi University in 1997. I taught for ten years, during which I wrote ten books and published 30 articles in various journals.

How did that experience help you improve on the legal practice?

During my teaching career, I learnt how to present well-researched work (cases) in court.

You were one time chair of Law Society of Kenya and President of East Africa Law Society (EALS). What are some of your achievements at the societies?

I was the brainchild behind the Advocates Remuneration Order, Legal Notice No. 159 of 2006, which set guidelines for lawyers’ legal fees. During my tenure at LSK, the Legal Education Regulation, 2006 and the Advocates Professionals Regulations Indemnity were put in place.

 I also spearheaded the revision of the Amendment of the LSK Act, to revise the council term from one to two years. Another notable achievement was the successful resistance of the Legal Notice by the chief justice that Judicial Review Adoption matters be done only in Nairobi. I devolved LSK services and strengthened its branches. I also challenged the shoot-to-kill order by the then Commissioner of Police Major General Ali.

And at the EALS?

In EALS, I was part of the regional integration committee that drafted the first constitution for East Africa. This continues to guide in the proposed Federation of East Africa.  I also worked on the adoption of the Custom Union Protocol within the East Africa region — that saw cross border legal

Practice. We pushed the then Attorney General Amos Wako to amend Section 13 of the Advocates Act.

You recently rebranded your law firm. Why?  

That was to give my legal practice an international outlook. It is about expanding the scope, or the work that the firm handles.

What is one thing many people do not know about you?

I’m fluent in French. I speak and translate French language. It is something I learned way back in high school, and I hold a diploma in French. The language helped when I served as the East Africa Law Society president. I campaigned in French to colleagues from Burundi and Rwanda. It is an advantage and something not many people know about me.

What are the key highlights of your career as a lawyer?

I recently won an election petition filed against the Nairobi Governor Dr Evans Kidero by former Embakasi MP Ferdinand Waititu. I won another petition against the Nairobi County Assembly Speaker. I represented the Senate in the Division of Revenue suit against the National Assembly. I represented the scion of Lord Delamare in a murder case, among many other criminal and civil litigations.

What do you do in your free time? 

I read a lot and spend time at home with family. I’m a committed family man.

What new ideas will you articulate if elected to the LSK slot in Judicial Service Commission? 

I will contest for that position next month because I have a passion for community service. I want to see a participatory, objective and open recruitment of judicial officers. My priorities are to strengthen the pillars of judicial transformation to include non-corruption, transparency and implement the five-year judiciary strategic plan.

Last word…

It takes great effort and patience to achieve your dreams.


Tom Ojienda; lawyer; advocates